Last October, we suggested that luxury brands should update their social networking status (see October 19’s blog) as 96 percent of the next generation of luxury consumers use social media. We are watching this evolution with interest and believe brands considering expanding into the virtual shopping space need to cover all the touch points of the total shopping experience.
An interesting Financial Times article (Fashion Expands Into The Virtual Market) explores this very issue, and discusses how Giorgio Armani set up a virtual Emporio Armani store in online role-playing game Second Life in 2007. It also reveals that a gamer on the virtual-world website Calypso bought a coat for his avatar that cost US $10,000 – in real currency. Astounding!
This type of branding, and direct connection with the consumer, seems to be vastly increasing. Susan Posen, Chairman of Zac Posen (and the fashion designer’s mother), is quoted in this article, saying, “There are people sitting at their desk on Wall Street and elsewhere who seem to be spending quite a substantial amount of time on this. It’s just a further evolvement of our voyeuristic world, an extension of Facebook and Twitter.”
The virtual fashion world will also be bolstered in March by the launch of the new Project Runway game for Nintendo Wii. Our question, however, is if these virtual sites are attracting more females and the average age is 35, what is the uptake from virtual sales to real sales? And does consumer experience (in terms of service) need to enter the equation at this virtual stage? Just some points to consider before taking the virtual plunge...